More and more evidence is coming to light That shows that Tate's catch was just that: a catch. There is one thing that nobody has noticed yet though.
There are actually TWO rules where control of the football is relevant.
The other case is during a fumble. Lets say for example, I am a ballcarrier. As I am getting tackled, before my knee touches the ground, the defender starts to pull the ball out of my hand. After this happens, my knee touches the ground, but I still have my hand on the football.
The ball is MOVING IN MY HAND, but I still have contact with it. Then, after my knee touches the ground, the ball completely comes out, I no longer have contact with the ball. This is a fumble. The reason this is a fumble is, because the BALL IS MOVING IN MY HAND, I no longer have CONTROL OF THE FOOTBALL.
Notice the capitilized phrases there, they are key in determining whether this was a simultaneous catch. The other situation I'd like to look at, is when a reciever makes a one handed catch. I want to look at a specific type of one handed catch, though, and that is, lets say, for example, the nose of the football is caught with my thumb and forefinger. I have two feet in bounds when this happens, and the ball does not MOVE IN MY HAND as I run out of bounds.
This is a catch. Now let's take a variation of that catch. Lets say, after the ball is caught with my thumb and forefinger, the ball MOVES IN MY HAND toward the palm of my hand. While the ball is moving in my hand, my foot comes off the ground. The ball then stops as it touches the palm of my hand.
At this point I have control of the ball. If I do not touch my foot back down in bounds, this is an incomplete pass, as I did not control the ball before running out of bounds. From these two cases, we can determine that the NFL defines control as the ball does not move in your hand. Now, this is the part I find hilariously ironic. Jennings actually HELPS Tate get control of the football.
Tate's left hand arrives on the football first, and then Jennings starts to pull the ball in towards his chest, and in the process actually stabilizes the ball against Tate's left hand. By definition, this is simultaneous CONTROL. This, by the way, is known as securing the football, and is what every football player is taught to do at a very young age. Jenning secures the football long before Tate does, which is why everybody thinks it looks like an interception. This is IRRELEVANT.
The play continues, and Tate's right arm comes off the ball for a split second, as he does what every good football player should do, and re-adjusts his grip on the football in his left hand, moving the palm of his hand over the nose of the football, and thus securing the football. We can see this has occurred on the Q-13 backside angle. Now, there are actually three elements that need to happen for this to be a catch.
The first is control. As I have shown above, by rule (See the NFL's statement about the catch, part a) of the definition of a catch), and by COMMON USEAGE, which is a lawyer term that simply means, how is this rule commonly interpreted in practice, the condition for simultaneous control is met. The second part is he must land with his feet in bounds. This part is not disputed at this time.
I reserve the right to call anybody who does want to dispute this an idiot. The third part of this is he must maintain possession of the football long enough to make another football move. After Tate's feet hit the ground, he continues to fall to his butt. Jennings lands on top of him. At this point, Tate's chest is facing the sky, and Jennings is facing the ground. Jennings violently re-orients his chest towards the sky in an attempt to rip the ball out of Tate's hands. Tate has secured the football so well at this point, that his left arm is jerked around, following the football, and his body actually follows his arm around Jennings body. By definition, this is a second football move, and the game is over.